Zion Karasenti, 64, now a director and choreographer, living in Afula: “At Ammunition Hill, all we could see was a hill surrounded by trenches and barbed wire. When we started to move, they threw everything they had at us. We got through one fence and found more wire. I threw myself on it and acted as a bridge for everyone else. I felt no pain. We got into the trenches, which were shallow and narrow. When someone was injured we passed them down the line over our bodies. The Jordanians couldn’t get away, but they kept on fighting to the last man.
I was the first paratrooper to get to the Wailing Wall. I didn’t know where I was, but I saw a female Israeli soldier, so I asked ‘Where am I?’ and she said: ‘The Wailing Wall.’ She gave me a postcard and told me to write to my parents before she disappeared. It might have been a dream, but then many years later I met the woman. She had been in the postal corps.
As more soldiers arrived, a photographer told us to stand like this and look in this direction. I just did it – I didn’t even think about it.
When I think of all the soldiers that died to take Jerusalem, I wonder if they would have thought it was worth it. I think they would.”
Yitzak Yifat, 64, now an obstetrics and gynaecology surgeon: “I developed toothache when we arrived in Jerusalem and went into battle with my mouth still numb from the local anaesthetic. It was face-to-face fighting. I fought like a tiger. My friend was shot in the backside and he was about to be shot again by a Jordanian. I shot him. Another Jordanian saw I was out of bullets and he charged at me with a bayonet. I don’t know how I did it, but I took his gun and shot him with it. It was brutal, and a sad victory. I lost many friends. After the fighting we built a memorial to our friends – and one to the Jordanians, in honour of their bravery.”
Haim Oshri, 63, emigrated from Yemen to Israel in 1949: “The battle for Ammunition Hill was the worst moment of the war. There wasn’t a plan – we were just told to attack. The Jordanians were brave soldiers. Now it makes me angry to think of all the unnecessary casualties. If we had taken more time to plan, there would have been far fewer casualties.
As an Orthodox Jew it was special for me to be involved in the fight for Jerusalem. It doesn’t matter if you’re from Poland or Yemen, Jerusalem is our common bond. Every day we pray three times to Jerusalem, and I could never have imagined the magic of seeing the Kotel [Western Wall] for the first time.”
This picture is for those of you who ever wondered what became of those soldiers pictured at the Western Wall, after the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967.
(click to enlarge)
Update: Thanks to David, I now know the source of the picture, as well as more information on what became of these soldiers.